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The vehicle suspension driven by the compressor driven air-pump is known as air suspension. Instead of conventional springs the air suspension is used in mostly heavy duty vehicles such as buses and trucks. The main purpose of air suspension is to provide smooth and constant ride quality.
Factors such as need for better ride quality, reduction in driver’s fatigue and increase in premium passenger car sales has positively impacted the air suspension market. The air suspension system comprises of shock absorbers, bellows, air compressor, electronic control unit and much more. The higher adoption cost is restraining the growth of the market.
The growing trend for luxury buses and growing preference for comfort of the passengers is boosting the demand for air suspension systems.
Technological advancement such as ECAS (Electronically Controlled Air Suspension) has helped in the growth of the market. Further increase in demand for lightweight air suspension systems will help to expand the market on a global scale.
Air Suspension is a common feature in the premium/luxury segment passenger vehicles. However, in 2020, the top 3 luxury car brands Mercedes Benz, BMW and Audi cumulatively have suffered a 10% drop in sales compared to 2019.
Heavy commercial vehicles are holding the maximum share in the global market. The demand for luxury buses and trucks has been the major factors for this. The need for high comfort and safety of passengers in buses is expected to boost the market.
Among passenger vehicles, the premium vehicles are being installed with air suspension system. The SUVs and off-road vehicles’ sales will boost the market as suspension plays a crucial role in the vehicle’s performance.
Based on the component air spring will hold a considerable share owing to the product replacement due to exposed to high pressure. The ECU market is expected to see a significant growth as it plays a crucial role in ECAS. The slow shifting from manual to ECAS will boost the ECU market.
The below chart shows the market based on component
The manually controlled technology holds the highest market share. However, with the introduction of ECAS, consumer preference is leaning towards electronically controlled system. As ECAS offers reduced vibration, noise and air consumption providing comfortable ride. These factors influence the electronically controlled market positively. Most of the heavy commercial vehicles like buses and trucks in Europe come with ECAS as standard option.
The air suspension market will be boosted with the increase in demand of the SUVs and off road vehicles. Air suspension is found in the RAM pick-up vehicles as optional feature.
USA holds the highest population of commercial vehicles in the world. Among trucks and buses air suspension is a standard feature in most of them.
In Europe among passenger cars, the luxury car makers such as Audi, Mercedes and BMW provide the air suspension system as standard option in most of their premium models. Volvo in its cars is providing air suspension as an option.
The presence of major air suspension manufacturers will help boost the European market in this sector. Volvo buses come with ECAS as standard optional in all the models. Among the trucks DAF (Netherlands), Iveco trucks (Italy) and Volvo (Sweden) have air suspension as standard at rear wheels and are optional at front wheels in most of their models.
In Europe, the bus sales in 2020 dropped by 21% from 43,799 to 34,781 units. The share of E-buses and alternative fuel run buses increased on an average by 25% Y-o-Y. The share of diesel buses declined drastically by ~30%.
In China air suspension is mostly found in tourism buses and less frequently seen in city buses. Yutong the presence of one of the largest bus manufacturers in the world will help expand the market vastly in the China region.
Among trucks the penetration of air suspension is less in LCV, but can be found extensively in M&HCV.
In China Light Bus sales in 2020 went up by 6.5% Y-o-Y, and ended at 334,400. They alone accounted for 76% of the total bus sales in China. This will boost the air suspension market in China.
The penetration of air suspension market in passenger cars is very low in India. However, they are extensively found in Ashok Leyland city buses. As the air suspension helps improve fuel efficiency thus reducing emission, this will boost the air suspension market in India.
Covid -19 posed a big threat to the financial stability of the big industries, the suspension market witnessed the worst economic downturn during these times, which coerced them to hold back their major actions.
The top competitors of the suspension market addressed a major loss in their sales and markets. Further due to shut down of the manufacturing plants of their own brand, the OEM’s, part suppliers and the transportation and the travelling restrictions due to imposed lockdown had a worst hit on their logistics and the supply chains.
Considering this as a major challenge many industries are now opting for digitalized solutions and have started to work upon their strategies such as product development, product innovation and business development.
Here is a list of reforms listed out by the major competitors of the market:
The need for improved safety has led to the development of the suspension continuously. This will help increase the market substantially. The higher penetration in off road vehicles as the air suspension will be more useful in such conditions it will help improve the market.
Some of the key players in the air suspension sector are Wabco Holding (US), Firestone Industrial Products (US), Continental AG and SAF- Holland both from Germany, Hitachi Ltd (Japan) and ThyssenKrupp AG (Germany).
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